You want to lose weight, and you’ve set goals for yourself, but you aren’t sure if they are the right goals, and maybe you’re not even sure how you are going to hit these goals. Keep reading because this is for you. So many of my clients tend to focus on either Nutrition or Fitness, but the truth is we need to be focusing on both. Last week we talked about general movement and how effective it is in moving the needle of weight loss. Today we are going to talk about the specific types of exercise that will help you lose fat, gain muscle, and reverse signs of aging.
Resistance Training and Aging
As we age we naturally lose muscle and bone mass due to a loss of protein synthesis, creatine conversion, and declining hormones. Sarcopenia is the term for muscle and bone shrinkage as you age. But just because we undergo declining hormones and protein synthesis as we age doesn’t mean we automatically will suffer from Sarcopneia or Osteoporosis.
There are ways to prevent and reverse these old-age fates, no matter what age you are. The best way to do this is by Lifting heavy stuff. Studies show lifting weights reverses 40 years of aging by building lean muscle tissue in older adults. And 6 months of resistance training makes aging mitochondria younger. A study done on 70-year-old men shows they increased their strength by 50% by performing strength training. Genes get younger with resistance training. So why not look and feel 10 years younger than your elderly counterpart? But this isn’t the only benefit to weight training.
Lift Heavy, Burn Fat, and Reverse Metabolic Syndrome
Lifting weights is also the best way to reverse insulin resistance and is one of the best ways to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal. Your body does this by directing food to glycogen storage (glucose stored in muscle for energy) as opposed to fat storage. Lifting at just 30% of your 1 rep max is enough to achieve this. But bodyweight exercise has been proven effective at building muscle as well. Resistance training also increases fast-twitch muscle fibers which burn fat and help you move more explosively, and are also protective against some of those aging factors.
On the flip side, if we aren’t gaining muscle or maintaining muscle we are losing muscle. Losing muscle is detrimental to your weight loss. Skeletal muscle mass contributes 15-17% of your basil metabolic rate. So, the more muscle you can build and maintain the more fat you will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.
Why Resistance Training?
Resistance training, specifically, mitigates muscle loss while eating in a caloric deficit. You will burn more fat, instead of muscle. When performing cardio only, your body gets the signal that muscle isn’t a priority and keeps less of it around, therefore lowering your BMR and muscle mass. Less muscle = less fat that gets burned.
A study was done on subjects who consumed an 800-calorie liquid diet and found that those who did resistance training experienced no loss of muscle mass over 12 weeks, but those who did not and only did cardio lost 3-5 kg (6-11 lbs) of lean body mass, plus their metabolic rate was lower. Lifting weights should feel uncomfortable. New muscle requires pushing to fatigue, but not the same muscles every day.
You do need to be strategic about the muscle groups you are working on and also make sure you are getting the right amount of rest and supplementation. 3-6 days per week of resistance training for someone who isn’t new to exercise is a good goal. 2 days per week is a good place to start for someone new to exercise.
For my chronic cardio lovers out there-some cardio is ok and effective at burning calories, but depending on your age and hormone health it can also be detrimental to your health if that is all you are doing. Chronic cardio causes an inability to shed fat over time. It creates extreme metabolic efficiency, which means your body down-regulates growth hormone, testosterone & often it’s only effective when you are very overweight and new to weight loss. When you are engaging in a lot of cardio you need to make sure you are getting variety. Swimming, cycling, running, and hiking are all great ways to implement low-to-moderate intensity cardio. How frequently you engage in these exercises is entirely dependent on your goals and health status.
If you are someone who likes to perform High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT), studies show this burns more body fat, specifically abdominal fat and preserves lean muscle. However, in excess, and depending on your sex, age, and hormone health, it can also wreck your hormones. In turn, this may cause more problems with your health and metabolism. 2-3 days a week of HIIT, combined with strength training on opposite days is a safe place to start for most.
Remember, excessive exercise leads to increased inflammation, fatigue, and decreased immune function over time.
My Tips to Maximize Your Weightloss with Exercise
My best advice for losing body fat and gaining muscle while exercising:
1. Reduce inflammation by removing seed oils and processed sugar from your diet. Rancid oils cause the most inflammation and will keep you from losing fat.
2. Be consistent with your routines, but incorporate variety. This goes for your food and your exercise.
3. Try getting a pre-breakfast, fasted cardio session 5 days per week for controlling blood sugar and burning fat.
4. Walk after meals, especially higher-carb meals.
5. Stand instead of sitting down when you can-studies show this reduces blood sugar spikes by 11 % by the end of the day.
6. Take “rest days” or recovery days so your body can recover and rebuild: 1-2 days off if you’re younger, 2-3 days if you are older. Recovery days could include easy hiking, a sauna session, yoga, or walking.
Are you interested in learning more about how I help women boost their metabolism, fix their hormones, and feel amazing in as little as 16 weeks? Book a free consultation HERE today!